University of Pittsburgh
February 11, 2008

Pitt Study Shows That Providing Wide Array of Human Services At Allegheny County Jail Reduces Recidivism and Increases Public Safety


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-A new three-year study by the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems (CRSP) shows that providing services to Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) inmates while they are incarcerated and after their release dramatically reduces the chance of the inmates returning to jail.

Professor Hide (pronounced HEE-dee) Yamatani, associate dean of research in Pitt's School of Social Work, launched the project in 2004. He evaluated the ACJ Collaborative, whose 25 members represent the ACJ, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, and the Allegheny County Health Department.

The collaborative evaluation study involved a group of 300 ACJ adult male inmates, half of them Black and half of them White, who agreed to participate and were among those receiving in-jail services through the collaborative. These services included drug and alcohol treatment, GED preparation, computer literacy, stress and anger management, parenting skills, life skills, and vocational training.

Upon their release from jail, the men were encouraged to seek support services from more than 60 community-based organizations. The former inmates were then interviewed in face-to-face meetings after 30 days, six months, and one year.

"So often, people have the impression that money spent on inmates and former inmates to receive social services is wasted," said Larry Davis, CRSP director, Donald M. Henderson Professor, and dean of Pitt's School of Social Work. "These findings argue strongly that efforts to help those who have been incarcerated result in significant positive returns for the larger society. We are sure that many of the men who participated in this study are now spending time parenting their children-something they would not be doing had they not been provided services by the ACJ Collaborative."

Highlights of the study's findings follow. They show:

o An approximately 50 percent lower recidivism rate (16.5 percent) compared to a group of inmates (33.1 percent) of a similar age one year after being released from the ACJ, prior to the launch of the collaborative;

o No statistically significant differences in the recidivism rate between Black and White collaborative inmate participants, in contrast to national recidivism trends;

o An annual savings for Allegheny County of more than $5.3 million, with the greatest cost-savings in the areas of increased public safety and reduced victimization among county Residents;

o Improved housing for both Black and White inmates, one year after their release from jail;

o Higher enrollment in community-based service organizations; and

o Increased employment for former White inmates, and an unchanged employment level for Blacks.

"Allegheny County is grateful to the University of Pittsburgh for undertaking this important study and to the Human Services Integration Fund for underwriting it," said Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato. "The findings of this study validate the efforts of the ACJ Collaborative to save tax dollars and successfully reintegrate former inmates back into our community, thereby increasing public safety."

The Human Services Integration Fund comprises more than a dozen local foundations. More information about the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative can be found at